What to Do When You Don’t Have a Polar Vortex Story to Pitch
Some stories just sell themselves. I’m sure by now you have learned what a polar vortex is. If not, walk outside without a coat and find out. An extreme polar vortex does not need to be sold to the media, it just is newsworthy because it is interesting and affects millions of people. And if you’re lucky once or twice a year, you’ll get a “polar vortex” that comes from a client. These are the stories about big corporate mergers and notable new CEO hires that require little or no effort on your part to make it into the paper, on the TV, or best of all front page news.
Let’s face it, no matter what PR industry you’re in most of the work is not glamorous and is downright dirty. But to our clients their story is worthy of coverage and we are paid to secure it time after time. When you aren’t bestowed the gift of a ‘polar vortex,’ here are a few tips to still land some coverage and make your client happy.
1. Personalize Your Pitch
I have said this before in other posts and I will have to say it again. Your pitch should be personalized to the publication as well as the reporter’s beat. Operating with a media targeted distribution list is crucial to gaining coverage. When you have generic news, spin it to make the publication feel they are gaining something by running your story. Don’t make it seem like they are the 5th call on your media list. Give them a unique spin catered to their outlet. Personalizing your pitch also is about how you sound on the phone. This is why building relationships is essential. No one likes a cold call. Don’t be or sound like a telemarketer. Sound personable as well as professional. Reporters do their research and will know when you have not done yours.
2. Focus on Content
It is the reporter’s job to write the story. You just give them the facts by making your pitch short and concise. What are the most important and interesting facts about your client’s story? Start with those and pull the reporter in. Your tone of voice is crucial here too. Do you sound bored with the story? Then the reporter will be bored too. Sound excited without sounding phony. Remember a pitch is different than a press release. You can add some creativity in your press release to make it stand out. That is creativity not fluff. But the pitch needs to get right to the point.
3. Think Timing
Know the publication calendar of the media outlet you are pitching. Time your initial contact and outreach around this. Give enough lead time for mediocre stories. The media always needs a nice filler story and it could be yours if you get it to them at the right time. Also, tailor your messaging to when the story will likely be published. Is it still relevant to the time frame? Make it relevant and sell it that way. Did something big just happen at your client’s company but people won’t see the effects for two weeks? Sell it that way.
Pitching to the news media and to bloggers is difficult. This is why so many agencies have bars in them now. If this were easy, everyone would be doing it. It is difficult work, but not impossible. It just takes a few fails to perfect it. Hope you get a polar vortex on your desk this year, if not; hope these tips will help you get a news crew to that 5k run.
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